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16 July 2019
Knowledge, practice and policy: Some definitions Print
Thursday, 27 June 2013 00:00

The concept paper that emerged from last year’s K* conference, Expanding Our Understanding of K*, contains some useful definitions. These are significant for DRUSSA, as we work with our 24 partner universities to strengthen institutional capacity for Research Uptake (RU) and Research Uptake Management (RUM). An enabling environment, together with mechanisms to accommodate and advance RUM are necessary if professional Research Uptake Managers are to get on with the business of getting research into use (see Building institutional capacity for Research Uptake). For our purposes, it is therefore necessary to translate and contextualise the K* thinking into the RUM discourse.


Here are our current definitions for RU and RUM:

  • Research Uptake (RU)* is the process where research findings enter the domains of intended but also unintended audiences. It is a complex process, as the audiences can be wide-ranging (practitioners, policymakers, scholars, general public, etc.); the notion of "uptake" -- which corresponds to "utilisation" -- can assume different meanings (being aware of findings, quoting findings, implementing findings, etc.); and a variety of modes exist whereby research can reach user audiences (via the internet, publications, brokers, media campaigns, workshops, etc.).

    It therefore has an additional and equally important focus: ensuring the accessibility of research findings by communicating and disseminating knowledge in different ways for different categories of users. It is undertaken in the context of rapidly improving ICT capacity and integration that provides research institutions with the means to reach multiple audiences and readerships in innovative ways.
  • Research Uptake Management (RUM) is an emerging university management field with a practical, cost-effective and sustainable approach to making research accessible and getting research into use. It requires specialist individual capacity, aligned organisational structures and strategic management processes to optimise conditions for the accessibility, dissemination, uptake and application of scientific evidence.

    Public policies underpinned by sound research evaluation, impact assessment and demonstrable RU can lead to higher impact interventions and programmes for poverty reduction and improved quality of life for Africa`s children, women and men.

And here are some of the K* definitions contained in the Ontario conference paper:

  • Knowledge Management (KM): the process of ensuring that knowledge is available. It is sometimes used to describe the suite of activities from the storage of information through to its dissemination. However, with the emergence of other terms and greater differentiation between roles, it is beginning to refer more to the collection and storage of different types of knowledge so that they can be accessed when needed.
  • Knowledge Transfer: a one-way process of sharing knowledge which can be construed as more of a teacher-student relationship than other knowledge-related activities and perhaps associated with mutual exploration of an issue.
  • Knowledge Translation (KT): the process of translating knowledge from one format to another so that the receiver can understand it; often from specialists to non-specialists. KT is sometimes represented as a one-way, and sometimes a two-way, process.
  • Knowledge Exchange (KE) or Knowledge Translation and Exchange (KTE): a two-way process of sharing knowledge between different groups of people.
  • Knowledge Brokering (KB): a two-way exchange of knowledge about an issue, which fosters collective learning and usually involves knowledge brokers or "intermediaries".
  • Knowledge Mobilisation (KMb): a two-way process that makes use of the existing stock of knowledge and co-creates new knowledge to foster change. The term KMb is most used by the Canadian network Research Impact, which helps translate/transfer university-based knowledge to help citizen groups.

It is clear that “Research Uptake” incorporates several of these fields, but grounds it in the capacity to operate effectively in the knowledge--policy--practice nexus.


* From the July 2010 Communicating Research for Utilisation Scoping Report